Friday, May 2, 2014

Home owners!

We bought a house! I kept a pretty close eye on the market ever since we moved here 9 months ago. Surprisingly, Starkville has some of the highest property prices in the state of Mississippi, so despite being in the middle of no where, the housing market isn't as low as you would think.  We contacted a realtor and met up at a promising looking house way back in September, but with Chris' chemo rounds and stem cell transplant we had to focus our thoughts and energy elsewhere. Once things were a bit settled (meaning that once Chris finished his radiation treatment, once he got his class set up, once I could see the light at the end of the I-just-had-a-baby tunnel, once we felt we had a good idea about hospital bills from Chris' treatments) we got our finances in order and approached our realtor again to begin the house in earnest. We were looking for a new, 4+ bedroom, 2+ bathroom house with some kind of play/bonus room on a large pretty lot in a nice neighborhood and in the city school district. It didn't take long to realize that we wouldn't be able to get everything we wanted. We had to compromise somewhere. I emailed our realtor a bunch of options I wanted to check out and he scheduled appointments for us at those and a few other ones across 2 days. 

We looked at 4 or 5 houses the first day. Most were new and in good neighborhoods. I fell in love with the inside of one of, vaulted, open, bonus room...but it was at the top top of our price range and although it had a cool salt water pool, it was a small backyard with hardly any playable grass space and it no trees and the neighbors were SUPER close. 

The first house of the second day of searching was one Chris had picked out and was most excited to see. I had disregarded it in my searches because I thought it was out of the school district boundaries but after some research we found out it was just barely IN them! Our realtor warned us that people either love this house or hate it because it has some quirky character with little staircases and levels all over the place and unique features. As we drove out to the property the neighborhood looked PERFECT, the yard had SO MUCH potential, but the house looked old and we braced ourselves for a dumpy inside. Lo and behold, it wasn't too bad inside!  In fact, it has been really well kept and smelled nice.  We fell in love with all the levels and the unique layout and nooks but from the very beginning our minds raced with possible renovation ideas. With a little creativity figured out a way to address any concerns or dislikes with the inside...but tackling a renovation in a new town, for the first time, was nerve racking and price-wise we had NO clue what to expect.  At all the other houses we saw that day, we kept comparing them to the first property of the day and the neighborhood/location and yard just could not be beat. The newer homes we saw just seemed so ordinary and boxy, and the other yards (even some 3 acres ones) seemed so square and flat and not exciting. 

After some more thinking and prayers over the weekend we felt best about putting on offer on that first house of the second search day. By Monday we were in contact with our realtor and sent in an offer.  It took about a week but we settled on a price, about $6,000 less than the asking price and set the closing date for just over a month out. But before things were completely finalized, we did bring a friend of ours who is an architect over to the house to look at it and discuss with him our renovation ideas as a sanity check to make sure they were possible.  He said it looked do-able and even said he had a contractor guy he thought would be good. While we waited to close, we immediately set out to find a contractor and get renovation plans drawn up. 

We celebrated closing with a donut and ice cream party on the driveway.

In the end we had to compromise a new, ready to move in house, for the location and yard.  Because it was at the low end of our price range, we could afford to do fairly extensive renovations before we even came close to the price of one of the other new homes we liked, like the one with the salt water swimming pool....but then we would also have those beautiful 3 acres!

Oh! and there is a guest house, so....visitors welcome!!! (DISCLAIMER:  we need to renovate it first, and that's not going to happen until we renovate the main house)